Share tax burden fairly

Your Jan. 27 editorial “Taxes and Grants” says that we need engineers’ drawings of the existing systems and potential modifications, (for the Columbia / Washington upgrade project.) This is putting ‘the cart before the horse.’

Your Jan. 27 editorial “Taxes and Grants” says that we need engineers’ drawings of the existing systems and potential modifications, (for the Columbia / Washington upgrade project.) This is putting ‘the cart before the horse.’

The justification for this project seems to be based on anectdotal opinions and not engineering facts. What is needed is a report covering the history of failures, maintenance records and inspection reports dealing with the condition of the existing underground infrastructure and engineers reports on the expected remaining life.

The grant application for the Columbia / Washington project says “(the Washington sewer) conveys sanitary discharge from 350 dwelling units in Rossland old town and from all of the existing 250 dwelling units at the base of Red Mountain, servicing a total of some 600 dwelling units. The City’s infill policy, along with the potential build — out of 1,500 more dwelling units at the Red Mountain base area, demands an upgrade/expansion of the existing line to meet both existing and future flow rates.” It goes on to say that the project will facilitate development of the Red Mountain base area and the mid-town transition area.

This would suggest that there is a large development component to this project. It is not unreasonable to suggest that the developers of those future 1,500 dwelling units should help pay the costs. This is what Development Cost Charges (DCCs) are for.

You should heed your own advice about finger pointing. The 400-per-cent increase in DCCs is not a recommendation from Coun. Laurie Charlton. It is a recommendation made by a professional consultant in a 2007 report dealing with DCCs. Council has failed to address this issue and needed to be reminded of it with respect to this project.

You dismiss DCCs as “mere tens of thousands of dollars” and only applying to a small portion of the Columbia/Washington Street project. The 2007 DCC report includes $836,000 for Columbia/ Washington sewer replacement projects, 100 per cent attributable to DCCs so why should it all now be paid for by taxpayers?

As your editorial says, Rossland faces more than $40 million in infrastructure upgrades. The DCC report includes $8 million or so for capacity upgrades. Add to this possibly another $20 million as Rossland’s share of upgrades to the regional sewage system.

Rossland is facing serious sustainability problems. DCCs have to be looked at for the long term, not just based on recent low or zero growth as a result of the recession. Existing taxpayers can not continue to subsidize development projects and everyone should pay their fair share.

Ken Holmes

Rossland